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Marilyn Cover Receives Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education

May 18, 2018

Marilyn Cover, executive director of Oregon’s Classroom Law Project (CLP) and adjunct law professor, has been awarded the 2018 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education. This honor is presented annually by the National Center for State Courts and is named after the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Since her retirement in 2006, Sandra Day O’Connor has become a dedicated advocate for improving civics education, tailoring her iCivics program for middle-school students. The award is granted to those who have promoted, inspired, improved or led an innovation or accomplishment in the field of civics education relating to the justice system.

Oregon Chief Justice Thomas Balmer nominated Cover for her leadership, creativity, reach, and determination. “Her impact on students and teachers – as well as judges, legislators, and other elected officials – extends far beyond her home base in oregon, where she and a handful of lawyers, teachers, and judges started what is now the Classroom Law Project (CLP) in the early 1980s,” he said in his nomination letter.

In 1979, she succeeding in establishing a Street Law program at Lewis & Clark Law School. This program breaks down barriers in education, placing law students in high school classrooms to imprint on young minds the practical principles of law. Cover built lasting relationships through this program, helping her impact change on a wider scale in her four decades of commitment to civics education.

She was able to convince Oregon governors and legislators to enact a state statute designating the first Friday in December as “Oregon Civics Day for Teachers.” The legislature provides funding for teachers to attend CLP’s hands-on conference at the state capitol to hear from governmental leaders and receive support to help them teach civics to their students.

As a result of Marilyn Cover’s achievements, many of Lewis & Clark Law School’s students and alumni have the opportunity to volunteer with CLP on the “We The People” and High School Mock Trial competitions throughout the state. Moreover, Marilyn has proved instrumental in the success of the Summer Law Camp, a program that focuses on diversity outreach to middle school students.

Assistant Dean for Diversity and Academic Resources J.B. Kim took Cover’s Street Law Class in 1993. “Lewis & Clark is lucky to have a close connection to Marilyn and CLP,” she said. “I applaud her boundless energy, connection to our students and commitment for increasing (much needed) education on Civics for young folks throughout Oregon.”

Visiting Professor of Law Barbara Safriet congratulated Cover on her well-deserved accolades. “Marilyn’s efforts over many years have done so much to educate many generation of Oregon students that they have a role to play in understanding their privileges and responsibilities as members of our civic-democratic society,” she said. “What more can we ask for or aspire to as educators?”




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